By Maria Ude Nwachi
It has become very necessary for me to pen this, so that many working as social media aides for various politicians, prominent figures, and other, will take note and learn one or two things. I am a professional image maker. I have carved a niche in the profession, and can say authoritatively that I am the only one in this country that is practicing it in the manner I operate. I do everything from the photography, editing of the photos, graphics, to creating the write-ups, contents and much much more. I also offer training packages for social media aides. I first practiced it for Governor Jeb Bush during the hotly contested 2002 Florida election. He eventually won, but narrowly. Then I got into it fully here in 2009; just as I created the then only home of Igbos here on Nigeria FB and some major news & information pages; just as Nigerians were discovering Facebook and other social media fora.
OGA PAY ATTENTION: If you are a politician or a prominent figure, you must pay attention what those paid aides or staunch supporters are writing in social media, especially on Facebook, if you pay no mind, they can drag your reputation or whatever is left of it to the mud in a way your own enemies cannot even dare to. Remember, whatever any of those posts online is seen as you posting it. Whatever they do or say is seen as you doing it. Pay attention and do not allow those you pay to either bring your image to the dustbin or keep it there.
TO SOCIAL MEDIA AIDES: Please, listen up: Do not antagonize your audience, when you decide to work for someone, you are basically doing some kind of image making for him. Don't turn it to Image-Tarnishing. Below are some tips for you:
PHOTO WORK: 40% of image making is centered on photography and its usages. Photography is the heart and soul of image making, personally, I cannot post any photo of my client without editing it to perfection, and it must look like it was not edited, that is my selling point. That said, you do not have to be a photo expert, but you can try and use a flattering photo befitting to the issue being posted, at all times. These days, with a camera or phone camera you can snap 100s of photos at once, then take your time and pick the one/s that fits the post but most importantly that flatters your principal. Don't use an image of him where he belly is hanging anyhow or where his posture looks bad. Be discerning, use your discretion aptly, pay attention to the images you use of him.
DON'T TAUNT YOUR AUDIENCE: Do not taunt your audience, do not antagonize them. I am starting to feel that some social media aides are attracting hate and attacks on themselves to prove to their principals that they can take hit for them. This is highly unnecessary and counter productive. Your principal did not ask you to go and be attacking anyone on Facebook, they did not send you such message. You are suppose to be a filter to your principal and not the one keeping him permanently on the line of fire. If you are a glutton for punishment and get some kind of weird high when being abused, debased and maligned due to your provocative and antagonist posts, masking as pro-someone, know that you are also damaging the image of your principal. Since you love being attacked, stand alone, do not drag another person down with you. Best you post about yourself than post in support of your principal in the most uncouth and rude manner. You cannot beat a child and tell him not to cry. You can not be speaking rudely and abusing your audience in your posts and expect them to clap for you, they will abuse the heck out of you but sadly they will also be abusing your principal, who has more to lose than you. Your audience will habour more disdain for your principal, because they view you as his spokesperson.
DO NOT REPEAT NEGATIVE TERMS USED ON YOUR PRINCIPAL: I cannot shout this enough. Iyanga go dey sleep and trouble will just be waking it. Some social media aides would keep repeating attack words against their principals in a post in order to mock the attackers or and also attract more words or war. Well in IMAGE MAKING 101, you do not repeat negativity, as people generally digest things in different manner, you might be mocking but someone might shake his head and agree with those NEGATIVE words, as they might be seeing it for the first time, and sadly, you are the reason they know of it. You can put up a defense of a negative term without even saying it as is, but in a situation you must repeat a negative term used on your principal, let it be that you did it in order to clarify your audience.
PROMOTE YOUR PRINCIPAL: STOP BEING ON THE ATTACKS CONSTANTLY: We live in a badly governed nation. We live in a rich nation that till date has no 24 hour light despite all the money that has been looted and it's being looted by its public officials. Over 95% of politicians in Nigeria have nothing to offer. Respect the valid anger of your audience against one politician or another. They have their points, their anger is real, it is not fake. Don't get terribly offended at their anger, rather try and understand it, use your emotional intelligence and follow them, because you can't even fight the masses, even your own principal cannot fight the masses when come becomes. You are hiding under the fact that your principal is in power and has the wherewithal to do and undo to act like you are invincible and that your principal does not care or need those criticizing him. WRONG, every politician is a begger, at one point he will beg, even if your principal is a 2nd term governor, he is still a begger like every politician, he will beg for your votes, either he is going to the senate or higher, or supporting someone to fill his post. Be tactful when dealing with your audience. You cannot afford to alienate people from him. Do not forget your major aim is to change a narrative or to create a narrative, and you cannot do this with muscle, you do it with tact, prudence and adroitness. No matter the amount of provocation and abuse, you must hold your peace and respond to people civilly and in a matter of factly way.
STOP!! Stop churning out posts full of contempt for the masses; the voting base of your principal. Come on. Stop. Odighi adighide oo. That your principal is powerful today does not mean he will be powerful tomorrow. You are feeling cool and feeling close to the man in power, and rather than use the opportunity positively you are on a war part with every tom and jerry. For no reason. You post every 5 minutes and everything is just antagonism, oppugnancy, inimicality, bellicosity & animus. Because you feel cool, close to power and no shaking. Well better stop and use your time on Facebook well. Use it to promote your principal and not to antagonize the masses. Power, like life, is ephemeral. Know that.
PREEMPTION: Due to my experience in social media, being the 1st to create a major news and information hub on Facebook Nigeria, If you show me a post, I can immediately decipher what the audience will say and how they will respond. I will do this quite accurately. If I am given a press release from a client, I will never post is as is, unless it's exactly the way I would want it to be in order to preempt negative responses. What I will do is you edit the press release to suit my aim for a client.
FILTER: You are suppose to be a filter for your principal. Just because he said something does not mean you should quote him verbatim if what he said was not proper and will bring attacks on him. Go and ahead and clean the part that is not okay and say it the way it should be said. You are his filter, your job is to make him look good. Do not be an AGENT PROVOCATEUR. You will be damaging his brand if you keep on fighting his base. Know this: Your principal is as good as your behavior online. Whatever you put out there is what he will be judged by.
STRENGTH: When you principal has a serious image problem, do not accelerate an already bad situation by constantly being combative with those calling him out. What you do is lash onto his strength, that which you know as truth that he is doing well and almost doing it better than most, lash onto that and milk it for all it's worth. If there is even something he needs to do to improve his image with his people and on social media never forget to voice it out, if you cannot talk to him directly, find a friendly face that is close to him and just throw it in; he will take it to your principal. It might work and your job will be made easier.
APT ENGAGEMENT: A young man presumed to be working for one of the governors in the eastern state, was being called out for a post he made in support of his principal, he got into a tiff with one of the female commentators in Igboist, hot words where exchanged and the lady inboxed to complain about what the young man said to her:
Here is what she inboxed:
"Hello ma, its a pity that you allow people who are not credible enough to put up a post on Igboist. I have time without number requested that **** politics should not be played out on your humble group. I made a comment in ********* post on ***** and all he could say is I should take care of my adopted children. Twins that I had after 13 years of marriage on my 6th ivf. It is so appalling when you encourage and allow people get hurt emotionally, psychologically and other wise. I may have to leave the group if *** politics is not given a break here. I feel so hurt".
My heart skipped. I was pained as I can feel the hurt. I inboxed the young man, and he acted sober and I told him to be more guided next time for the sake of those he is supporting. I sent my number to the lady to contact me, I must do something to sweeten her soul for this.
Please social media aides, remember your principal has more to lose. Do not ever go personal with your audience. No matter the provocation do not be abusive towards them much less going very personal. Your audience is seeing your principal through your eyes, please be very very careful how you behave online while supporting him.
KNOW THIS: What I do is completely different from what you do as a social media aide. I cannot do your job and you cannot do mine. I am completely in my own lane, what I do is mostly done behind the scenes for the client. My duty is simply to make sure my client is viewed in the best way possible, and whatever I must do to achieve that, I will do. Social media aides are some of my best resource people. I always work in synergy with them for the benefit of our shared goal which is to see their principal, my client, shining brightly always.
TRAINING: I got a job 2 month ago to train and reorient 15 social media aides of a serving governor. I trained them intensively for 1 week. Taught them certain trade secrets and so much more. Then trained one of them on how to write and speak as his principal, how to manage his Facebook walls and other walls. A week later, I was invited to train the photogs on his team, I did that for two weeks as I had to train them on photo editing and the act of taking shots for the purpose of image making. And how to effectively use images to subliminally convey your messages. While I was giving them the training, I never met the governor in question. I was hired for the job by the speaker of the state who saw me talking photos at an event, asked who I was, and was impressed by what he was told. Just 2 weeks ago, I got a call from the governor himself, whom thanked me for the improvement he has seen with his aides. Why am I saying all these? Oyibo does not joke with training for good reasons. If you are a high profile person, make sure you have competent hands handling your social media affairs, even a 2 day training can forestall a lot. Many of those not doing an effective job do not intend to do badly, they are doing what they know, if they know better, many of them will do better.
IMPORTANT - Personal walls: Please, do not allow just anyone to handle your personal walls. Things done in the 3rd person can be managed, but anything said as you on your wall that is not apt is simply irremediable. Your personal wall is sacrosanct. Let only an effective mind and hand speak as you on your walls. 2019 is around the corner, a good part of the campaign will be centered on social media especially Facebook which is where we all reside. Do not take Facebook lightly, do not take it for granted. Rather use it effectively for your goals. As it's going no where.
In conclusion: Social media aides, please, do all you can to shine the light on your principal in the most positive way. If you have any problems or issues you feel I can be of help to you on, please, inbox me and I will help in anyway I can. And you too can teach me some things. We are all in this together. Thanks all for reading.
Yours sincerely, Maria Ude Nwachi - Ude Ehugbo.
AFIKPO CHIC!!! BCEL - BEST CHIC EVER LIVETH.